2 Corinthians 5:1
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
V.

(1) For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved.—Better, be broken up, as more in harmony with the image of the tent. The words that follow give the secret of his calmness and courage in the midst of sufferings. He looks beyond them. A new train of imagery begins to rise in his mind: linked, perhaps, to that of the preceding chapter by the idea of the tabernacle; in part, perhaps, suggested by his own occupation as a tentmaker. His daily work was to him as a parable, and as his hands were making the temporary shelter for those who were travellers on earth, he thought of the house “not made with hands,” eternal in the heavens. The comparison of the body to the house or dwelling-place of the Spirit was, of course, natural, and common enough, and, it may be noted, was common among the Greek medical writers (as, e.g., in Hippocrates, with whom St. Luke must have been familiar). The modification introduced by the idea of the “tent” emphasises the transitory character of the habitation. “What if the tent be broken up?” He, the true inward man, who dwells in the tent will find a more permanent, an eternal, home in heaven: a house which comes from God. What follows shows that he is thinking of that spiritual body of which he had said such glorious things in 1Corinthians 15:42-49.

2 Corinthians

TENT AND BUILDING

2 Corinthians 5:1
.

Knowledge and ignorance, doubt and certitude, are remarkably blended in these words. The Apostle knows what many men are not certain of; the Apostle doubts as to what all men now are certain of. ‘If our earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved’-there is surely no if about that. But we must remember that the first Christians, and the Apostles with them, did not know whether they might not survive till the coming of Christ; and so not die, but ‘be changed.’ And this possibility, as appears from the context, is clearly before the Apostle’s mind. Such a limitation of his knowledge is in entire accordance with our Lord’s own words, ‘It is not for you to know the times and the seasons,’ and does not in the smallest degree derogate from his authority as an inspired teacher. But his certitude is as remarkable as his hesitation. He knows-and he modestly and calmly affirms the confidence, as possessed by all believers-that, in the event of death coming to him or them, he and they have a mansion waiting for their entrance; a body of glory like to that which Jesus already wears.

I. So my text mainly sets before us very strikingly the Christian certitude as to the final future.

I need not dwell, I suppose, upon that familiar metaphor by which the relation of man to his bodily environment is described as that of a man to his dwelling-place. Only I would desire, in a word, to emphasise this as being the first of the elements of the blessed certitude in which Christian people may expatiate-the clear, broad distinction between me and my physical frame. There is no more connection, says Paul, between us and the organisation in which we at present dwell than there is between a man and the house that he inhabits. ‘The foolish senses crown’ Death and call him lord; but the Christian’s certitude firmly draws the line, and declares that the man, the whole personality, is undisturbed by anything that befalls his residence; and that he may pass unimpaired from one house to another, being in both the self-same person. And that is something to keep firm hold of in these days when we are being told that life and consciousness are but a function of organisation, and that if the one be annihilated the other cannot persist. No; though all illustrations and metaphors must necessarily fail, the two which lie side by side here in my text and its context are far truer than that pseudo-science-which is not science at all, but only inference from science-which denies that the man is one thing and his house altogether another.

Then again, note, as part of the elements of this Christian certitude, the blessed thought that a body is part of the perfection of manhood. No mere dim, ghostly future, where consciousness somehow persists, without environment or tools to act upon an outer world, completes the idea of God in reference to man. But the old trinity is the eternal trinity for humanity, body, soul, and spirit. Corporeity, with all that it means of definiteness, with all that it means of relation to an external universe, is the perfection of manhood. To dwell naked, as the Apostle says in the context, is a thing from which man shudderingly recoils; and it is not to be his final fate. Let us take this as no small gain in reference to our conceptions of a future-the emphatic drawing into light of that thought that for his perfection man requires body, soul, and spirit.

And now, if we turn for a moment to the characteristics of the two conditions with which my text deals, we get some familiar enough but yet great and strengthening thoughts. The ‘earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved,’ or, more correctly, retaining the metaphor of the house, is to be pulled down-and in its place there comes a building of God, a ‘house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.’

Now the contrast that is drawn here, whilst it would run out into a great many other particulars, about which we know nothing, and therefore had better say nothing, revolves in the Apostle’s mind mainly round these two ‘earthly’ as contrasted with ‘in the heavens’; and ‘tabernacle,’ or tent, as contrasted, first of all with a ‘building,’ and then with the predicate ‘eternal.’

That is to say, the first outstanding difference which arises before the Apostle as blessed and glorious, is the contrast between the fragile dwelling-place, with its thin canvas, its bending poles, its certain removal some day, and the permanence of that which is not a ‘tent,’ but a ‘building’ which is ‘eternal.’ Involved in that is the thought that all the limitations and weaknesses which are necessarily associated with the perishableness of the present abode are at an end for ever. No more fatigue, no more working beyond the measure of power, no more need for recuperation and repose; no more dread of sickness and weakness; no more possibility of decay, ‘It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption’-neither ‘can they die any more.’ Whether that be by reason of any inherent immortality, or by reason of the uninterrupted flow into the creature of the immortal life of Christ, to whom he is joined, is a question that need not trouble us now. Enough for us that the contrast between the Bedouin tent-which is folded up and carried away, and nothing left but the black circle where the cheerful hearth once glinted amidst the sands of the desert-and the stately mansion reared for eternity, is the contrast between the organ of the spirit in which we now dwell and that which shall be ours.

And the other contrast is no less glorious and wonderful. ‘The earthly house of this tent’ does not merely define the composition, but also the whole relations and capacities of that to which it refers. The ‘tent’ is ‘earthly’ , not merely because, to use a kindred metaphor, it is a ‘building of clay,’ but because, by all its capacities, it belongs to, corresponds with, and is fitted only for, this lower order of things, the seen and the perishable. And, on the other hand, the ‘mansion’ is in ‘the heavens,’ even whilst the future tenant is a nomad in his tent. That is so, because the power which can create that future abode is ‘in the heavens.’ It is so called in order to express the security in which it is kept for those who shall one day enter upon it. And it is so, further, to express the order of things with which it brings its dwellers into contact. ‘Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.’ That future home of the spirit will be congruous with the region in which it dwells; fitted for the heavens in which it is now preserved. And thus the two contrasts-adapted to the perishable, and itself perishable, belonging to the eternal and itself incorruptible-are the two which loom largest before the Apostle’s mind.

Let no man say that such ideas of a possible future bodily frame are altogether inconsistent with all that we know of the limitations and characteristics of what we call matter. ‘There is one flesh of beasts and another of birds,’ says Paul; ‘there is one glory of the sun and another of the moon.’ And his old-fashioned argument is perfectly sound to-day.

Do you know so fully all the possibilities of creation as that you are warranted in asserting that such a thing as a body which is the fit organ of the spirit, and is incorruptible like the heavens in which it dwells, is an impossibility? Surely the forms of matter are sufficiently varied to make us chary in asserting that other forms are impossible, to which there may belong, as characteristics, even these glorious ones of my text. The old story of the king in the tropics, who laughed to scorn some one who told him that water could be turned into a solid, may well be quoted in this connection. Let us be less confident that we know all that is to be known in regard to the sweep of God’s creative power; and let us thankfully accept the teaching by which we, too, in all our ignorance, may be able to say, ‘We know that . . . we have a building of God . . . eternal in the heavens.’

Now there is only one more remark that I wish to make about this part of my subject; and it is this, that the teaching of my text and its context casts great light-and I think by many people much-needed light-on what the resurrection of the dead means. That doctrine has been weighted with a great many incredibilities and I venture to say absurdities, by well-meaning misconceptions and exaggerations. We have heard grand platitudes about ‘the scattered dust being gathered from the four winds of heaven,’ and so on, but the teaching of my text is that the contrast between the present physical frame and the future bodily environment is utter and complete; and that resurrection does not mean the assuming again of the body that is left behind and done with, but the reinvestiture of the man with another body. And so the Scriptural phrase is, not ‘the resurrection of the body,’ but ‘the resurrection of the dead.’ It is a house ‘in the heavens.’ It comes ‘from heaven.’

We leave the tent. Life and thought

. . . have gone away, side by side,

Leaving doors and windows wide;

Careless tenants they!

And they may well be careless, because in the heavens they have another mansion, incorruptible and glorious.

We leave the ‘tent’; we enter the ‘building.’ There is nothing here of some germ of immortality being somehow extricated from the ruins, and fostered into glorious growth. Or, to take another metaphor of the context, we strip off the garment and are naked; and then we are clothed with another garment and are not found naked. The resurrection of the dead is the clothing of the spirit with the house which is from heaven. And there is as much difference between the two habitations as there is between the grim, solid architecture of northern peoples, amidst snow and ice, needed to resist the blasts, and to keep the life within in an ungenial climate, and the light, graceful dwellings of those who walk in an atmosphere of perpetual sunshine in the tropics, as there is between the close-knit and narrow-windowed and narrow-doored abode in which we now have to pass our days, and that large house, with broad windows that take in a mightier sweep and new senses that have relation with new qualities in the world then around us. Therefore let us, whilst we grope in the dark here, and live in a narrow hovel in a back street, look forward to the time when we shall dwell on the sunny heights in the great pavilion which God prepares for them that love Him.

II. And now note, again, how we come to this certitude.

My text is very significantly followed by a ‘for,’ which gives the reason of the knowledge in a very remarkable manner. ‘We know, . . . for in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house, which is from heaven.’ Now that singular collocation of ideas may be set forth thus-whatever longing there is in a Christian, God-inspired soul, that longing is a prophecy of its own fulfilment. We know that there is a house, because of the yearning, which is deepest and strongest when we are nearest God, and likest what He would have us to be-the yearning to be ‘clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.’ That is a truth that goes a long way; though to enlarge on it is irrelevant to our present purpose. It has its limitations, as is obvious from the context, in which are human elements which are not destined to be gratified, mingled with the yearning, which is of God, and which is destined to be satisfied. But this at least we may firmly hold by, that just because God will not put men to confusion intellectually, and does not let them entertain uncherished-still less Himself foster and excite-longings which He does not mean to gratify, a Christian yearning for immortality is, to the man who feels it, a declaration that immortality is sure for him. ‘Delight thyself in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.’ Whatsoever, in touching Him, we do deeply long for may have blended with it human elements, which will be dispersed unsatisfied, but the substance of it is a prophecy of its own fulfilment. And as surely as the stork in the heavens, flying southward, will reach the sunny lands which draw it from the grim northern winter, so surely may a man say, ‘I know that I have a house in heaven, because I long for it, and shrink from being found naked.’

Of course such longing, such aspiration and revulsion are no proofs of a fact except there be some fact which changes them, from mere vague desires, and makes these solid certainties. And such a fact we have in that which is the only proof that the world has received, of the persistence of life through death and the continuance of personal identity unchanged by the grave, and that is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Our faith in immortality does not depend merely on our own subjective desires and longings, but these desires and longings are quickened, confirmed, and certified by this great fact that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead; and therefore we know that the yearnings in us are not in vain. So we come to this certitude, first, by reason of his experience; and, second, by reason of the longings which that experience fosters if it does not kindle, within our hearts.

And let no man take exception to the Apostle’s word here, ‘we know,’ or tell us that ‘Knowledge is of the things we see.’ That is true, and not true. It is true in regard to what arrogates to itself the name of science. And we are willing to admit the limitation if the men who insist upon it will, on their sides, admit that there are other sources of certitude than so-called ‘facts,’ by which they mean merely material facts. If it is meant to assert that we are less sure of the love of God, of immortality, than we are of the existence of this piece of wood, or that flame of gas; then I humbly venture to say that there is another region of facts than those which are appreciable by sense; that the evidence upon which we rest our certitude of immortal blessedness is quite as valid, quite as true, quite as able to bear the weight of a leaning heart as anything that can be produced, in the nature of evidence, for the things round us. It is not, ‘We fancy, we believe, we hope, we are pretty nearly sure,’ but it is ‘We know . . . that we have a building of God.’

III. Lastly, note what this certitude does.

The Apostle tells us by the ‘for’ which lies at the beginning of my text, and makes it a reason for something that has preceded, and what has preceded is this, ‘We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.’

That is to say, such a joyous, calm certitude draws men’s thoughts away from this shabby and transitory present, and fixes them on the solemn majesties of that eternal future. Yes! and nothing else will. Take away the idea of resurrection, and the remaining idea of immortality is a poor, shadowy, impotent thing. There is no force in it; there is no blessedness in it; there is nothing in it for a man to lay hold of. And, as a matter of fact, there is no vivid faith in a future life without belief in the resurrection and bodily existence of the perfected dead.

And we shall not let our thoughts willingly go out thither unless our own personal wellbeing there is very sure to us. When we know that for us individually there is that house waiting for us to enter into it, when the Lord comes, then we shall not be unwilling to turn our hearts and our desires thither. We look at the things which are not seen, for we know that we have a house eternal.

And such a certitude will also make a man willing to accept the else unwelcome necessity of leaving the tent, and for a while doing without the mansion. It is that which the Apostle is speaking of in subsequent verses, on which I cannot enter now. He says-and therein speaks a universal experience-that men recoil from the idea of having to lay aside this earthly body and be ‘naked.’ But we know that we have that glorious mansion waiting for us, and that till the day comes when we enter upon it we may be lapt in Christ instead, and, in that so-called intermediate state, may have Him to surround us, Him to be to us the medium by which we come into connection with anything external, and so can contentedly go away from our home in the body; and go to our home in Christ. ‘Wherefore, we are always confident, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord.’

Oh, brethren! do we think of our future thus? If we do, then let us lay to heart the final words of our teacher in this part of his letter: ‘Wherefore we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well-pleasing unto Him.’2 Corinthians 5:1-4. For we know — We pursue, not seen, but unseen things, and do not faint in our work, because we know that if our earthly house — Which is only a tabernacle or tent, a mere temporary habitation; were dissolved — Were mouldered back to the dust out of which it was formed; or if our zeal in the service of the gospel should expose us to martyrdom, which should destroy it before its time; we have — And should immediately enjoy; a building of God — A building of which he is the great architect and donor; a house not made with mortal hands — Nor to be compared with the most magnificent structure which hands ever raised, exceeding them all in its lustre, as much as in its duration, though that duration be eternal in the heavens — Placed far above either violence or decay. “Whether we consider this divine building as particularly signifying the body after the resurrection, in which sense Whitby takes it; or any vehicle with which the soul may be clothed during the intermediate state, considerable difficulties will arise.” “I therefore,” says Doddridge, “am inclinable rather to take it in a more general view, as referring to the whole provision God has made for the future happiness of his people, and which Christ represents as his Father’s house, in which there are many mansions.” For in this — While we are in this state of suffering, or while our soul sojourns in this mortal body; we groan earnestly — Eagerly long for that future state, and the felicity of it, and grieve that we do not yet enjoy it; desiring to be clothed upon — That is, upon this body, which is now covered with flesh and blood; with our house which is from heaven — To enter the heavenly mansion which God hath provided for us. To be clothed upon with a house, is a very strong figure; which yet the apostle uses here and in 2 Corinthians 5:4, having in his thoughts the glory which each should wear, instead of being clothed, as now, with that mortal flesh which he calls a tabernacle, as it is so mean, inconvenient, and precarious an abode. If so be that being clothed — With the image of God, while we are in the body; we shall not be found naked — Of the wedding garment. He seems to allude to Genesis 3:7; Exodus 32:25; our natural turpitude of sin being a nakedness abominable to God. See 1 Peter 5:5; Colossians 3:12, where the same metaphor of being clothed with divine graces is made use of. For we that are in this tabernacle — Who still dwell in these frail and corruptible tents; do groan, being burdened therewith. The apostle speaks with exact propriety, a burden naturally exciting groans: and we are here burdened with numberless afflictions, infirmities, and temptations. Not that we would be unclothed — Stripped of our bodies, for that is what we cannot consider as in itself desirable;.but rather, if it might be left to our choice, we would desire to pass into the immortal state without dying, or to be clothed upon with the heavenly glory, such as that which will invest the saints after the resurrection; that mortality, το θνητον, that which is mortal — Corruptible, and obnoxious to so many infirmities, disorders, burdens, and sorrows; might be swallowed up of life — As if it were annihilated by the divine power, which at the resurrection will exert itself in and upon us; namely, as the case was with Enoch and Elijah when they were translated, and as it shall be with the saints that are found alive at Christ’s second coming. The meaning of this and the following verses is evidently this; “That though it appeared most desirable of all to pass to future glory without dying, yet a state in which mortality should be swallowed up of life, was, at all events, desirable; and an absence from the body to be not only submitted to, but wished for, in a view of being so present with the Lord, as even in the intermediate state they expected to be.” — Doddridge.5:1-8 The believer not only is well assured by faith that there is another and a happy life after this is ended, but he has good hope, through grace, of heaven as a dwelling-place, a resting-place, a hiding-place. In our Father's house there are many mansions, whose Builder and Maker is God. The happiness of the future state is what God has prepared for those that love him: everlasting habitations, not like the earthly tabernacles, the poor cottages of clay, in which our souls now dwell; that are mouldering and decaying, whose foundations are in the dust. The body of flesh is a heavy burden, the calamities of life are a heavy load. But believers groan, being burdened with a body of sin, and because of the many corruptions remaining and raging within them. Death will strip us of the clothing of flesh, and all the comforts of life, as well as end all our troubles here below. But believing souls shall be clothed with garments of praise, with robes of righteousness and glory. The present graces and comforts of the Spirit are earnests of everlasting grace and comfort. And though God is with us here, by his Spirit, and in his ordinances, yet we are not with him as we hope to be. Faith is for this world, and sight is for the other world. It is our duty, and it will be our interest, to walk by faith, till we live by sight. This shows clearly the happiness to be enjoyed by the souls of believers when absent from the body, and where Jesus makes known his glorious presence. We are related to the body and to the Lord; each claims a part in us. But how much more powerfully the Lord pleads for having the soul of the believer closely united with himself! Thou art one of the souls I have loved and chosen; one of those given to me. What is death, as an object of fear, compared with being absent from the Lord!For we know - We who are engaged in the work of the gospel ministry. Paul is giving a reason why he and his fellow-laborers did not become weary and faint in their work. The reason was, that they knew that even if their body should die, they had an inheritance reserved for them in heaven. The expression "we know" is the language of strong and unwavering assurance. They had no doubt on the subject. And it proves that there may be the assurance of eternal life; or such evidence of acceptance with God as to leave no doubt of a final admission into heaven. This language was often used by the Saviour in reference to the truths which he taught John 3:11; John 4:22; and it is used by the sacred writers in regard to the truths which they recorded, and in regard to their own personal piety; John 21:24; 1 John 2:3, 1 John 2:5,1 John 2:18; 1 John 3:2, 1 John 3:14, 1 John 3:19, 1 John 3:24; 1 John 4:6, 1 John 4:13; 1 John 5:2, 1 John 5:15, 1 John 5:19-20.

That if our earthly house - The word "earthly" here (ἐπιγειος epigeios) stands opposed to "heavenly," or to the house eternal (ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς en tois ouranois) in the heavens." The word properly means "upon earth, terrestrial, belonging to the earth, or on the earth," and is applied to bodies 1 Corinthians 15:40; to earthly things John 3:12; to earthly, or worldly wisdom, James 3:15. The word "house" here refers doubtless to the body, as the habitation, or the dwelling-place of the mind or soul. The soul dwells in it as we dwell in a house, or tent.

Of this tabernacle - This word means a booth, or tent - a movable dwelling. The use of the word here is not a mere redundancy, but the idea which Paul designs to convey is, doubtless, that the body - the house of the soul - was not a permanent dwelling-place, but was of the same nature as a booth or tent, that was set up for a temporary purpose, or that was easily taken down in migrating from one place to another. It refers here to the body as the frail and temporary abode of the soul. It is not a permanent dwelling; a fixed habitation, but is liable to be taken down at any moment, and was suited up with that view. Tyndale renders it, "if our earthly mansion wherein we now dwell." The Syriac renders it, "for we know that if our house on earth, which is our body, were dissolved." The idea is a beautiful one, that the body is a mere unfixed, movable dwelling. place; liable to be taken down at any moment, and not designed, anymore than a tent is, to be a permanent habitation.

Were dissolved - (καταλυθῇ kataluthē). This word means properly to disunite the parts of anything; and is applied to the act of throwing down, or destroying a building. It is applied here to the body, regarded as a temporary dwelling that might be taken down, and it refers, doubtless, to the dissolution of the body in the grave. The idea is, that if this body should moulder back to dust, and be resolved into its original elements; or if by great zeal and, labor it should be exhausted and worn out. Language like this is used by Eliphaz, the Temanite, in describing the body of man. "How much less in those that dwell in houses of clay," etc.; Job 4:19; compare 2 Peter 1:13-14.

We have a building of God - Robinson (Lexicon) supposes that it refers to "the future spiritual body as the abode of the soul." Some have supposed that it refers to some "celestial vehicle" with which God invests the soul during the intermediate state. But the Scripture is silent about any such celestial vehicle. It is not easy to tell what was the precise idea which Paul here designed to convey. Perhaps a few remarks may enable us to arrive at the meaning:

(1) It was not to be temporary; not a tent or tabernacle that could be taken down.

(2) it was to be eternal in the heavens.

(3) it was to be such as to constitute a dwelling; a clothing, or such a protection as should keep the soul from being "naked."

(4) it was to be such as should constitute "life" in contradistinction from "mortality." These things will better agree with the supposition of its referring to the future body of the saints than any thing else; and probably the idea of Paul is, that the body there will be incorruptible and immortal. When he says it is a "building of God" (ἐκ Θεοῦ ek Theou), he evidently means that it is made by God; that he is the architect of that future and eternal dwelling. Macknight and some others, however, understood this of the mansions which God has prepared for His people in heaven, and which the Lord Jesus has gone to prepare for them; compare John 14:2. But see the note on 2 Corinthians 5:3.

An house - A dwelling; an abode; that is, according to the interpretation above, a celestial, pure, immortal body; a body that shall have God for its immediate author, and that shall be suited to dwell in heaven forever.

Not made with hands - Not constructed by man; a habitation not like those which are made by human skill, and which are therefore easily taken down or removed, but one that is made by God himself. This does not imply that the "earthly house" which is to be superseded by that in heaven is made with hands, but the idea is, that the earthly dwelling has things about it which resemble that which is made by man, or as if it were made with hands; that is it is temporary, frail, easily taken down or removed. But that which is in heaven is permanent, fixed, eternal, as if made by God.

Eternal in the heavens - Immortal; to live forever. The future body shall never be taken down or dissolved by death. It is eternal, of course, only in respect to the future, and not in respect to the past. And it is not only eternal, but it is to abide forever in the heavens - in the world of glory. It is never to be subjected to a dwelling on the earth; never to be in a world of sin, suffering, and death.

CHAPTER 5

2Co 5:1-21. The Hope (2Co 4:17, 18) OF Eternal Glory in the Resurrection Body.

Hence arises his ambition to be accepted at the Lord's coming judgment. Hence, too, his endeavor to deal openly with men, as with God, in preaching; thus giving the Corinthians whereof to boast concerning him against his adversaries. His constraining motive is the transforming love of Christ, by whom God has wrought reconciliation between Himself and men, and has committed to the apostle the ministry of reconciliation.

1. For—Assigning the reason for the statement (2Co 4:17), that affliction leads to exceeding glory.

we know—assuredly (2Co 4:14; Job 19:25).

if—For all shall not die; many shall be "changed" without "dissolution" (1Co 15:51-53). If this daily delivering unto death (2Co 3:11) should end in actual death.

earthly—not the same as earthy (1Co 15:47). It stands in contrast to "in the heavens."

house of this tabernacle—rather, "house of the tabernacle." "House" expresses more permanency than belongs to the body; therefore the qualification, "of the tabernacle" (implying that it is shifting, not stationary), is added (compare Job 4:19; 2Pe 1:13, 14). It thus answers to the tabernacle in the wilderness. Its wooden frame and curtains wore out in course of time when Israel dwelt in Canaan, and a fixed temple was substituted for it. The temple and the tabernacle in all essentials were one; there was the same ark, the same cloud of glory. Such is the relation between the "earthly" body and the resurrection body. The Holy Spirit is enshrined in the believer's body as in a sanctuary (1Co 3:16). As the ark went first in taking down the wilderness tabernacle, so the soul (which like the ark is sprinkled with blood of atonement, and is the sacred deposit in the inmost shrine, 2Ti 1:12) in the dissolution of the body; next the coverings were removed, answering to the flesh; lastly, the framework and boards, answering to the bones, which are last to give way (Nu 4:1-49). Paul, as a tent-maker, uses an image taken from his trade (Ac 18:3).

dissolved—a mild word for death, in the case of believers.

we have—in assured prospect of possession, as certain as if it were in our hands, laid up "in the heavens" for us. The tense is present (compare Joh 3:36; 6:47, "hath").

a building of God—rather "from God." A solid building, not a temporary tabernacle or tent. "Our" body stands in contrast to "from God." For though our present body be also from God, yet it is not fresh and perfect from His hands, as our resurrection body shall be.

not made with hands—contrasted with houses erected by man's hands (1Co 15:44-49). So Christ's body is designated, as contrasted with the tabernacle reared by Moses (Mr 14:58; Heb 9:11). This "house" can only be the resurrection body, in contrast to the "earthly house of the tabernacle," our present body. The intermediate state is not directly taken into account. A comma should separate "eternal," and "in the heavens."2 Corinthians 5:1-9 Paul declareth that, in assured hope of a blessed immortality hereafter, he was indifferent to life, and laboured only to approve himself to Christ,

2 Corinthians 5:10,11 that knowing the general judgment that would follow, and the terrors of it, he was solicitous to persuade men,

2 Corinthians 5:12,13 that this was said not by way of boasting, but purely to furnish the Corinthtians with a reply in his justification against false pretenders,

2 Corinthians 5:14-16 that, moved by the love of Christ, he was become dead to all former regards,

2 Corinthians 5:17-19 and all things being now made new by God in Christ reconciling the world to himself.

2 Corinthians 5:20,21 He, as ambassador for Christ, besought men to embrace the offered reconciliation.

The apostle had before said, that he looked at the things not seen; in this verse he openeth himself, and showeth what those unseen things are:

We (saith he) know, we have a certain persuasion, we doubt not of it, but that if our body were dissolved. This body he calleth an earthly house, either because it is made of the dust of the earth, into which it must again be resolved; or because it is only the habitation of the soul, so long as the soul is on this side of heaven; and therefore he calleth it also, the

earthly house of this tabernacle. A tabernacle is a moving house or booth built up for a time. This tabernacle (saith the apostle) must be pulled down, and taken in pieces; and we are certain, that if it be dissolved,

we have a building of God, either a blessed, eternal mansion, (according to that of our Saviour, John 14:2: In my Father’s house are many mansions), or else, God will give us a spiritual, glorious, incorruptible body; not

a house made with hands, nor a house that shall be dissolved and any more pulled down, but which shall be

eternal in the heavens; in such a state, as that it shall be incorruptible, and no more subject to any corruption or decay.

For we know, that if our earthly house,.... By this house is meant the body, so called from its being like a well built house, a curious piece of architecture; as an house consists of a variety of parts fitly framed and put together in just symmetry and proportion, and with an entire usefulness in all, so is the body of man; which shows the power and wisdom of God the architect: likewise, because it is the dwelling place of the soul, which makes it appear, that the soul is more excellent than the body, is independent of it, and capable of a separate existence from it: it is said to be an "earthly" house, because it is from the earth; is supported by earthly things; has its present abode on the earth, and will quickly return to it: and the earthly house of this tabernacle, in allusion to the tabernacles the patriarchs and Israelites of old dwelt in; or to the tents and tabernacles of soldiers, shepherds, travellers, and such like persons, which are soon put up and taken down, and removed from place to place; and denotes the frailty and short continuance of our mortal bodies. So Plato (z) calls the body , "an earthly tabernacle"; so the Jews were wont to call the body an house, and a "tabernacle":

"every man (they say (a)) has two houses, , "the house of the body", and the house of the soul; the one is the outward, the other the inward house.''

So Abarbinel (b) paraphrases those words, Isaiah 18:4.

""I will consider in my dwelling place; I will return", or again consider in my dwelling place, which is the body, for that is , "the tabernacle of the soul".''

Now this tabernacle may, and will be, "dissolved", unpinned, and taken down; which does not design an annihilation of it, but a dissolution of its union with the soul, and its separation from it: and when the apostle puts an "if" upon it, it is not to be understood as though it is uncertain whether it would be dissolved or not, unless it be said with a view to the change that will be on living saints at Christ's second coming; but it is rather a concession of the matter, and may be rendered, "though the earthly house", &c. or it points out the time when the saints' future happiness shall begin, "when the earthly house", &c. and signifies that being in the body, in some sense, retards the enjoyment of it. Now it is the saints' comfort whilst they are in it, and in a view of the dissolution of it, that they

have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens? which some understand of the glorified body upon its resurrection, as opposed to its frail, mortal, earthly frame in its present situation; though rather all this designs the happiness of the saints, which will be begun, and they shall immediately enter into, at the dissolution of their bodies, and will be consummated at the resurrection; which is all of God's building and preparing; not made by the hands of the creature; or obtained by works of righteousness done by men; and it lies in the heavens, and will continue for ever. So the (c) Jews speak of , "the holy house", in the world to come, and which they suppose is intended in Isaiah 56:5. In this the saints have a present interest; they have it already built and prepared for them; they have an indubitate right and title to it through the righteousness of Christ; they have it secured to them in Christ, their feoffee in trust, their head and representative; and they have the earnest of it, the Spirit of God in their hearts; of all which they have sure and certain knowledge: "for we know"; they are well assured of the truth of this from the promise of God, who cannot lie, from the declaration of the Gospel, the testimony of the Spirit, and the close and inseparable connection there is between the grace they have already received, and the glory that shall be hereafter.

(z) In Clement. Alexandr. Stromat. l. 5. p. 593. (a) Sepher Caphtor, fol. 38. 2.((b) Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 11. 4. (c) Zohar in Exod. fol. 34. 3. & 35. 3.

For {1} we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

(1) Taking occasion by the former comparison, he compares this miserable body as it is in this life, to a frail and brittle tabernacle. And contrasts this with the heavenly tabernacle, which he calls that sure and everlasting condition of this same body glorified in heaven. And this is so, he says, in that we are addicted to this tabernacle, but also with sobs and sighs desire rather that tabernacle. And so this place concerning the glory to come is put within the treatise of the dignity of the ministry, just as it also was in the beginning of the second chapter.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 5:1. Γάρ] gives a reason for 2 Corinthians 4:17. For if we were not certain that, etc., 2 Corinthians 5:1, we could not maintain that our temporal tribulation works for us an eternal weight of glor.

οἴδαμεν] is here not the general it is known (Romans 2:2; Romans 3:19; Romans 7:14; Romans 8:28), but Paul is speaking (with the inclusion also of Timothy) of himself, as in the whole context. He is certain of this. Comp. Job 19:25.

ἐὰν ἡ ἐπίγειος ἡμῶν κ.τ.λ] in case our earthly house of the tent (our present body) shall have been broken up (comp. Polyb. vi. 40; 2Es 5:12). Paul here supposes the case, the actual occurrence of which, however, is left quite indefinite by ἐάν, of his not living to see the Parousia. It is true that he was convinced for himself that he would live to see it (1 Corinthians 15:51), but the opposite still remained to him a possible case, and he posits it here (comp. on 2 Corinthians 4:14) as dependent on emergent circumstances and with an eye to the future decision. This correct view of the use of ἐάν (see Hermann, ad Viger. pp. 822, 834 f.; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 453) is sufficient to set aside the supposition that it is here equivalent to κἄν, etiamsi (Grotius, Mosheim, Schulz, Rosenmüller, also Schneckenburger, Beitr. p. 125), which is not the case even in passages such as Mark 8:36; 1 Corinthians 4:15; 1 Corinthians 13:1-3; 2 Corinthians 12:6.

ἐπίγειος] earthly, i.e. to be found on earth. Comp. 1 Corinthians 15:40; Php 2:10; Php 3:19; Jam 3:15; John 3:12. But the special notion of transitoriness only comes to be added through the characteristic τοῦ σκήνους, and is not specially implied in ἐπίγειος (in opposition to Flatt and many others), for the present body is as ἐπίγειος, in contrast to the heavenly things, in a general sense temporal.

ἡ οἰκία τοῦ σκήνους] is to be taken as one conception: the house, which consists in the (known) tent, the tent-house. It is wrongly translated domum corporis by Mosheim and Kypke (Rückert also hesitates as to this). For frequently as the profane authors, especially the Pythagoreans and Platonists, designate the body by σκῆνος (Grotius in loc.; Alberti, Obss. p. 360; Dougtaeus, Anal. II. p. 122 f.; Jacobs, ad Anthol. XII. p. 30), and seem withal to have quite abandoned the conception of the tent (see the passages in Wetstein, and Kypke, II. p. 250), still that conception always lies at the root of the usage, and remains the significant element of the expression. Comp. Etym. M.: σκῆνος καὶ τὸ σῶμα παρὰ τὸ σκήνωμα καὶ σκηνὴν εἶναι τῆς ψυχῆς, οἷον οἰκητήριον. And since Paul nowhere else uses σκῆνος of the body, and was led in quite a special way by the figure of οἰκία, to do so here, we must keep by the literal meaning of σκῆνος, tent, by which is set forth the merely temporary destiny of the earthly body. Comp. 2 Peter 1:13-14; Isaiah 38:12; Wis 9:15, and Grimm in loc. Chrysostom: εἰπὼν οἰκίαν σκήνους καὶ τὸ εὐδιάλυτον καὶ πρόσκαιρον δείξας ἐκτεῦθεν, ἀντέθηκε τὴν αἰωνίαν. There is nothing to indicate a particular allusion, such as to the dwellings of the Israelites in the wilderness (Schneckenburger, comp. Rückert), or even to the tabernacle (Olshausen).

On the two genitives of different reference dependent on one noun, see Winer, p. 180 [E. T. 239]; and in Latin, Kühner, ad Cic. Tusc. ii. 5. 35.

οἰκοδομὴν ἐκ θεοῦ] a building proceeding from God, furnished to us by God, by which is meant the resurrection-body. The earthly body also is from God (1 Corinthians 12:18; 1 Corinthians 12:24), but the resurrection-body will be in a special creative sense (1 Corinthians 15:38) one, not indeed that has proceeded from God,[204] but that is given by God. Note also the contrast of the transient (ἡ οἰκία τοῦ σκήν.) and the abiding (οἰκοδομή) in the two bodies. ἘΚ ΘΕΟῦ is to be attached to ΟἸΚΟΔ., not to be connected with ἜΧΟΜΕΝ, by which a heterogeneous contrast would be introduced (according to Hofmann, with the earthly body, “which is made each individual’s own within the self-propagation of the human race”). The present tense, ἔχομεν, is the present of the point of time in which that ΚΑΤΑΛΥΘῆ shall have taken place. Then he who has died has, from the moment of the state of death having set in, instead of the destroyed body, the body proceeding from God, not yet indeed as a real possession, but as an ideal possession, undoubtedly to be realized at the (near) Parousia. Before this realization he has it in heaven (ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς belongs to ἜΧΟΜΕΝ), just because the possession is still ideal and proleptic; at the Parousia the resurrection-body will be given to him from heaven (comp. 2 Corinthians 5:2) by God, and till then it appears as a possession which is preserved for him for a time in heaven with a view to being imparted in future—like an estate belonging to him (comp. the idea ἔχειν θησαυρὸν ἐν οὐρανῷ, Matthew 19:21; Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22) which God, the future giver, keeps for him in heaven. For a like conception of the eternal ΖΩΉ in general, see Colossians 3:3 f.; comp. Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 375. The whole of this interpretation is confirmed by τὸ οἰκητήρ. ἡμ. τὸ ἐξ οὐρανοῦ, 2 Corinthians 5:2, which is correlative to the ἜΧΟΜΕΝἘΝ ΤΟῖς ΟὐΡΑΝΟῖς, 2 Corinthians 5:1, in which, however, ἘΝ does not again occur, but ἘΚ, because in 2 Corinthians 5:2 ΤῸ ΟἸΚΗΤΉΡΙΟΝἘΠΕΝΔΎΣΑΣΘΑΙ expresses the time of the realization of that possession described in 2 Corinthians 5:1. As accordingly ἜΧΟΜΕΝ expresses more than the mere expectancy (“in the event of our death we do not wholly perish, but have at the resurrection a spiritual body to expect,” Billroth), it is not to be transformed into accipiemus (Pelagius: “sumemus”), with Emmerling, Flatt, and many of the older expositors, nor is it to be said, with de Wette (comp. Weizel in the Stud. u. Krit. 1836, p. 967; also Baur, II. p. 292 f., ed. 2; and Delitzsch, Psychol, p. 435 f.), that Paul has overleaped the middle state between death and resurrection, or has let it fall into the background on account of its shortness (Osiander). The ἔχειν takes place already from the moment of death and during the continuance of the intervening state, not simply from the resurrection. Photius, Anselm, Thomas, Lyra, and others,[205] including Calovius, Wolf, Morus, Rosenmüller, Hofmann, compare John 14:2, and on account of the present tense refer this οἰκοδομή to the glorious place of abode of the blessed spirits with God after death on to the resurrection. So also Usteri, Lehrbegr. p. 359 (comp. Schneckenburger, l.c.), explains it of a life in heaven immediately after death. But against such a view it may be decisively urged that οἰκία in the two parts of the verse must necessarily have the same reference (namely, to the body); hence also we cannot, with Ewald and Hofmann, think of the heavenly Jerusalem, Galatians 4:25 f., Hebrews 12:22, and of the heavenly commonwealth, Php 3:20. See, on the other hand, τὸ ἐξ οὐρανοῦ, 2 Corinthians 5:2, on which Bengel rightly remarks: “itaque hoc domicilium non est coelum ipsum.”[206] But because the οἰκία is ἘΞ ΟὐΡΑΝΟῦ, we can as little think of a pneumatic bodily organ of the intermediate state (Flatt, Auberlen in the Stud. u. Krit. 1852, p. 709, Neander), of which the N. T. gives no teaching or even hint whate2Co 5:Rückert explains it, yet with much vacillation, of the immediate sequence of the exit out of the old and entrance on the new body; but this is against 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, according to which the transfiguration of those who live to see the Parousia appears not as investiture with a new body after a previous κατάλυσις of the old, but as a sudden transformation without destruction. This also in opposition to Olshausen, who likewise seems to understand it of the transfiguration of the livin.

ἀχειροποίητον] This epithet, denoting the supernatural origin, suits indeed only the figure (Mark 14:58; Acts 7:48), and not the thing in itself;[207] yet it occurred to the apostle the more naturally, and he could use it with the less scruple and without impropriety, seeing that he had just before represented the earthly body under the figure of a σκῆνος, consequently of an ΟἸΚΊΑ ΧΕΙΡΟΠΟΊΗΤΟς, so that now, by virtue of contrast, the heavenly body stood before his eyes as an ΟἸΚΊΑ ἈΧΕΙΡΟΠΟΊΗΤΟς. Conversely, an adjective may, without incongruity, correspond to the thing itself and not to the figure, as in 2 Corinthians 5:1-5. His expectation of a Glorified Body hereafter; and his desire to survive until the Second Advent.Ch. 2 Corinthians 5:1. For we know] This verse gives the reason for what has gone before. ‘We are consoled in our present afflictions, sustained in our hope of future glory, supported in our conviction that what is visible is speedily to be replaced by what is eternal, by the knowledge, spiritually acquired, that God has prepared a spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:44) to replace the present frail and temporary habitation of the soul.’ Calvin remarks that this with St Paul is not a matter of opinion or belief, but of actual knowledge, a boast which no heathen dare have made.

our earthly house of this tabernacle] Earthly, not earthy. That which exists upon the earth, not what is made of earth. Compare 1 Corinthians 15:40; 1 Corinthians 15:47. See also John 3:12; Php 2:10. House of this tabernacle is better rendered tabernacle-house. The Hebraistic genitive is “to define the nature of the house” (Stanley), i.e. as temporary, a tent or tabernacle as opposed to a permanent dwelling. Stanley suggests our English word tenement as best expressing the idea of the original, and supposes the Greek word to have been suggested to St Paul by his Cilician house, as well as by his occupation of tent-making, Acts 18:3. A similar expression is found in 2 Peter 1:13, and in Wis 9:15.

were dissolved] or, perhaps, were destroyed. Cf. Matthew 5:17; Matthew 24:2; Matthew 26:61; Galatians 2:18, where the same Greek word is used.

we have a building of God] i.e. a building originating with God. The present tense signifies either (1) that it awaits us “the moment our present house is destroyed” (Stanley), or (2) that it exists now in the eternal purpose of God. See next note but one.

a house not made with hand] So the earlier copies of the Authorized Version. The later—the innovation seems to have been made about 1661—have ‘hands,’ which is less correct. “Not as contrasted with the earthly body, which is also ‘not made with hand,’ but with other houses which are made with hand.” Alford. The expression is used to mark the Divine origin of the spiritual body.

in the heavens] These words should be joined with ‘we have,’ not as is usually done with ‘eternal.’ There is a difficulty here. The new body is said in 1 Corinthians 15:52; Php 3:21; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 to be given us at the coming of Christ. The condition of the believer between death and the judgment is represented as a sleep. The explanation is that we possess our future body already in the mind and will of God. So the Hebrew prophets frequently speak of a future event as’ past, because it is already decreed in the providence of God. We are in said to ‘have it in the heavens’ because its organization and communication to us are not natural, but heavenly and spiritual.2 Corinthians 5:1. Γὰρ, for) A reason given [ætiologia] for this statement, affliction leads to glory [ch. 2 Corinthians 4:17].—ἡ ἐπίγειος) which is on the earth: 1 Corinthians 15:47. The antithesis is, in the heavens.—ἡμῶν, our) The Antithesis is, of [from] God.—οἰκία τοῦ σκήνους, the house of this tabernacle) The Antithesis is, a building, a house not made with hands. A metaphor taken from his own trade might produce the greater interest in the mind of Paul, who was a tent-maker [Acts 18:3.]—καταλυθῇ, were dissolved) a mild expression. The Antithesis is, eternal.—ἔχομεν, we have) The present; straightway from the time of the dissolution of the earthly house.—ἀχειροποίητον) not made with the hands of man.Verses 1-10. - The hope of the future rife is the great support of our efforts. Verse 1. - For. A further explanation of the hope expressed in 2 Corinthians 4:17. We know. This accent of certainty is found only in the Christian writers. Our earthly house. Not the "house of clay" (Job 4:19), but the house which serves us as the home of our souls on earth; as in 1 Corinthians 15:40. Of this tabernacle; literally, the house of the tent; i.e. the tent of our mortality, the mortal body. In 2 Peter 1:13, 14 it is called skenoma, and the expression, "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,"is literally, "he tabernacled among us" - he wore "a tent like ours and of the same material." The figure would be specially natural to one whose occupation was that of a tentmaker. Compare -

"Here in the body pent,
Afar from him I roam,
But nightly pitch my wandering tent
A day's march nearer home."
A very, similar expression occurs in Wisd. 9:15, "The earthly tabernacle (γεῶδες σκῆνος) weigheth down the mind." Be dissolved; rather, be taken to pieces. A building. Something more substantial than that moving tenement. Of God; literally, from God; namely, not one of the "many mansions" spoken of in John 14:2, but the resurrection body furnished to us by him. We have this building from God, for it exists now, and shall be ours at the same time that our tent home is done away with. Not made with hands. Not like those tent dwellings at which St. Paul was daily toiling with the hands which ministered to his own necessities. In the heavens. To be joined with "we have." Heaven is our general home and country (Hebrews 11:16), but the present allusion is to the glorified bodies in which our souls shall live in heaven (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:42-49). Our earthly house of this tabernacle (ἡ ἐπίγειος ἡμῶν οἰκία τοῦ σκήνους)

Earthly, not, made of earth, which would be χοΐ́κός as 1 Corinthians 15:47; but upon the earth, terrestrial, as 1 Corinthians 15:40; Philippians 2:10. Tabernacle (σκῆνος) tent or hut. In later writers, especially the Platonists, Pythagoreans, and medical authors, used to denote the body. Thus Hippocrates: "A great vein by which the whole body (σκῆνος) is nourished." Some expositors think that Paul uses the word here simply in this sense - the house which is the body. But while Paul does mean the body, he preserves the figurative sense of the word tabernacle; for he never uses this term elsewhere as synonymous with the body. The figure of the tent suits the contrast with the building, and would naturally suggest itself to the tent-maker. The phrase earthly house of the tabernacle expresses a single conception - the dwelling which is, or consists in the tabernacle, the tent-house. The transient character of the body is thus indicated. Compare houses of clay, Job 4:19. See on the kindred words σκήνωμα tabernacle, 2 Peter 1:13; and σκηνόω to dwell in or to fix a tabernacle, John 1:14. Tabernacle is so habitually associated with a house of worship, and is so often applied to durable structures, that the original sense of a tent is in danger of being lost. It would be better to translate here by tent. The word tabernacle is a diminutive of the Latin taberna a hut or shed, which appears in tavern. Its root is ta, tan, to stretch or spread out.

Dissolved (καταλυθῇ)

Lit., loosened down. Appropriate to taking down a tent. See on Mark 13:2; see on Luke 9:12; see on Acts 5:38; and compare 2 Peter 3:11, 2 Peter 3:12, and the figure of the parting of the silver cord on which the lamp is suspended, Ecclesiastes 12:6. Also Job 4:21, where the correct rendering is: Is not their tent-cord plucked up within them? So Rev. O.T.

We have

The building from God is an actual possession in virtue of the believer's union with Christ. It is just as we say of a minor, before he comes into possession of his property, that he has so much. Compare Matthew 19:21.

Building of God (οἰκοδομὴν ἐκ Θεοῦ)

In contrast with tent. The reference is to the resurrection body. Compare the city which hath the foundations, Hebrews 11:10. For of God, read, as Rev., from, God; proceeding from (ἐκ) Heinrici, von Gott her: compare God giveth, 1 Corinthians 15:38, and ἔχετε ἀπὸ Θεοῦ ye have from God, where the reference is to the natural body, 1 Corinthians 6:19. Construe from God with building, not with we have.

In the heavens

Construe with we have.

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